Our take: Reynolds’ Water Quality bill

CCI Action Members Say Water Quality Bill, Senate File 512, Robs Peter To Pay Paul

Tuesday, January 23, the Iowa House voted 59-41 to pass Senate File 512, a bill to fund unspecified, voluntary water quality measures with taxpayer money. This bill now moves to the Governor’s desk.

CCI Action members say this proposal robs Peter to pay Paul.  SF 512 steals money from the General Fund that is already spread too thin for underfunded agencies that serve the public like the Department of Education, Department of Natural Resources, and Iowa Workforce & Development.

“We need new revenue and that should come from the industry causing Iowa’s water crisis, not the public.  Farm Bureau, Monsanto, Iowa Select, and other corporate agribusinesses are behind it and they should have some skin in the game to fix it,” said MaryAnn Koch, CCI Action member from Des Moines.


“Corporate agriculture claims to be a $112.2 billion industry in Iowa. The livestock industry alone claims $31.6 billion in economic output. They can afford to clean up the water crisis they created without placing a burden on Iowa taxpayers,” said John Lichty, CCI Action member from West Des Moines. “Make polluters pay.”

Governor Reynolds and other members of the legislature said this bill is just a starting point and that they’ll work out the details with a “fix-it-bill” later this session.  CCI Action members doubt that Governor Reynolds has any intention of solving Iowa’s water crisis. 

“She’ll use this for her campaign, and then she’ll continue to throw the people of Iowa under the bus,” added Lichty. “If they are serious, they would have gotten it right the first time around.”

CCI Action members say other reasons SF 512 is bad news for Iowa are:

  • It sets no measurable water quality metrics;
  • It doesn’t specify which practices will funded, leaving decisions out of the public eye at IDALS and the secretive Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University;
  • Annual reporting will only include expenditure made, not progress of cleaning up Iowa’s water; and
  • It fails to provide a funding mechanism from polluters.

CCI Action members believe the solutions to Iowa’s water crisis are:

  • A moratorium on new/expanding factory farms until Iowa has fewer than 100 polluted waterbodies and local control;
  • Mandatory, not voluntary, protections for our water;
  • Tough enforcement and stiff fines and penalties for polluters; and
  • Funding for cleanup efforts from the industry through policies like taxing manure and corporate agribusiness profits.

CCI Action members are celebrating the removal of a “poison-pill” in the passing in the water quality bill known as pollution trading, which was contained in House File  612.  Pollution trading is cap and trade for water pollution that is also known as pay-to-pollute.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund is a 501c4 non-profit organization dedicated to building social, economic, and environmental justice through community organizing, education, and advocacy. Find us on Twitter at @cciaction.


>>> Read more on our Clean Water and Factory Farm lobbying efforts here.


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